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What we can learn from Google, IDEO and Pixar


This weekend I spent some time with incredible innovators at Stanford University to talk about innovation in education. All walks of life gathered at to discuss problems in education and to propose solutions.

My biggest takeaway: Education needs more design thinking and collaborative concepting at all levels.

Throughout the day we shared stories, created concept maps, brainstormed collaboratively, identified problems in education and prototyped possible solutions. I love that we didn’t just give answers. We prototyped possible solutions in the prototype lab where we had access to all kinds of great building materials. We came up with some pretty impressive solutions. What if schools operated more like this? If teachers and students worked together as designers. This is the drive behind Anastasis Academy’s morning inquiry block. We look at big questions and work on interdisciplinary projects that incorporate a range of subjects and disciplines of learning.

“What if the process of education were as intentionally crafted as the products of education (i.e., we always think about the book report or the final project, but not the path to get there).” (Fast Company)

Schools have a lot to learn from Google, IDEO and Pixar. These are companies that have created a culture of creativity, play and collaboration. IDEO mirrors this culture in their physical space. The space lends itself to creativity and new ideas because the space isn’t overly prescriptive. Stanford’s was very similar. Tracks run all over the building where walls of whiteboards can be clipped in and moved around easily. A writing space wherever and whenever you need one. Brilliant. All of the furniture is on wheels, it is easily moved and rearranged based on current needs. Large wooden Lego-type blocks can be easily moved, arranged and built with for any situation.

I love the philosophies of Pixar, the layout is designed to foster “forced collisions of people”. Students with different backgrounds, passions and understandings collided in new understandings. Would forced collisions of people encourage a whole new population of da Vinci thinking?

At Google play is not only encouraged, it is deeply engrained in the culture. Spaces are flexible and constantly changing and being built. This is was the case in Stanford’s and I have to say, the instant ability to edit our workspace impacted our thinking. “Imagine what might happen if students had this same power to edit and make their own spaces within the school environment.” (Fast Company)

I highly recommend the following article from Fast Company “What Schools Can Learn From Google, IDEO, and Pixar.”

The article mentions High Tech High, a collection of charter schools in Southern California led by Larry Rosenstock. Please take the 14 minutes to watch this great video about High Tech High! Innovation is education is emerging in pockets all over the world. Anastasis Academy is a part of this innovation!

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